Month 1:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:15 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 11 April 2017
Chag haMatzah 2017
I. Restoring the Divine Image
Continued from Part 1
Chag haMatzah sameach and Shabbat Shalom kol beit Yisra'el, Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon and to New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh worldwide - grace and peace in Yah'shua our Messiah (Jesus Christ). Some of our brethren, as in Myanmar, are in different calendar zones to us so today will be their second day of Chag haMatzah or Yom haBikkurim which is why we like to get this message out a day early whenever possible - this is one of the challenges posed by an International Ministry such as NCAY observing the luni-solar biblical creation calendar.
Yesterday, on Pesach (Passover), we looked at the life of Cain, the first to shed innocent blood, and we saw how his rebellion against Yahweh defaced Cain-in-the-Image-of-Elohim (God) and turned him into Cain-in-the-image-of-Satan. He no longer resembled Elohim (God) by nature - now he resembled the Adversary. Cain, the murderer, becomes Cain the unfruitful vagabond and restless wanderer. His life, as we saw, was preserved for many reasons, not least of which was to be a reminder of what the unsaved condition looks like. An unsaved person may not have literally murdered anyone but he exhibits many of the same character traits of one who is under condemnation - he cannot be fruitful in the things of the Kingdom of which he is not a part, he cannot find abiding shalom (rest) - he is restless, continually in search of one short-lived pleasurable stimulation after another in order to give life some meaning, some purpose - in order to preserve his sanity.
A Spotlight on the Darkness
All the unsaved - murderers and non-murderers alike - therefore share certain characteristics that are common to them all which combine to resemble the image of the fallen one, Satan. You will recall that Cain hated his brother because Abel's righteousness served as a magnifying glass over his own wickedness. Every time the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) do what is right, it puts a spotlight on Satan, shaming him. This enrages him which in turn enrages those men and women are are themselves walking in the darkness, because the righteous show them up. Not only that, but the deeds of the righteous in all ages still shine a spotlight on Satan and his followers, just as "[Abel] still speaks, even though he is dead" (Heb.11:4, NIV)...another reason Satan hates the Scriptures that bear witness of the righteousness of the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones).
The Festival is Not for Unbelievers
The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzah) speaks to believers. It is not a message for unbelievers. Why? Because unbelievers cannot remove sin from their lives by their own efforts and Chag haMatzah is a mitzvah (commandment) to Israelites - originally those under the Covenant of Moses, today those under the New Covenant of Messiah - to do just that. Pesach (Passover) yesterday addressed this particular problem of man's inability to save himself - to remove guilt and sin from his life. The violation in Eden by Adam and Eve that caused the Fall, and every other sin since, has stained mankind more and more. The earth continues to be saturated with the blood of innocents. It's happening right now. Only blood can atone for blood, life for life - and only a spotless and divine life can atone for billions of human beings, and indeed the whole of creation itself.
T&he Telegraph Poles
About 15 years ago our electricity company decided to put all its cables underground. The result, in our area at least, was dozens of surplas telegraph and electricity poles. I asked if we could have them and the company was only too willing that we take these 10 meter-long, creosote-permeated tree trunks off their hands. So the company piled them up, over 20 of them, at the top of our drive. And there they sat. Then I had the idea to put them to good use in our garden...15 years later...only to find they were much too big and heavy for anyone to move them. So in the end I had to hire heavy-duty machinery to do the job.
Only One Can Remove Sin
It's the same with sin. No man or group of men can move it out the way. No meditation, no self-will, no ritual, no exercise - nothing - can remove the stain of sin. Only the Creator can do that. And that is what Pesach (Passover) is all about. The Passover Lamb is a picture of "the Lamb of Elohim (God) who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29, NIV).
Formerly in the Image of Elohim
"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to Elohim (God). Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to Elohim (God) in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) our Master. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Elohim (God) as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to Elohim (God). For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under [the pentalty of the] Torah (Law) but under grace (undeserved loving kindness, unmerited favour)" (Rom.6:9-14, NKJV).
We were all originally made in the image of Elohim (God), meaning that we reflected Him in our nature - our mind, heart and spirit. We loved as He loved, we thought as He thought and we lived as He lived so that our lives were beautiful and spotless. We were made as His sons and daughters looking like Him in every respect, in the same way that Abel and Seth resembled their father Adam. That is how we began until the Fall marred the divine image. Like a masterpiece of art such as a Rembrandt or Michaelangelo, sin spoiled us, as if someone had thrown cans of paint onto the canvass leaving one awful mess.
Not Designed for the Fall
Though Yahweh knew beforehand that his children would rebel, we were not designed to live in a fallen state. We were designed to always be in His panim (presence), always to abide in His ahavah (love). Outside of that, we are like fish out of water - we cannot live spiritually. We were designed to be in a close, intimate relationship with Him. Apart from him our spiritual lives are as a desert. We were made for Garden-, not Desert-Life. The whole of the earth was originally designed to be a Paradise. Man was created to multiply and his children were supposed to be filled with that Divine Chayim (Life), filling the planet with His Image. Anyone seeing one of His children would, by virtue of this imaging, be able to 'see' Yahweh, that is to say, understand His nature and character. When we speak of Yahweh's 'Name', it is to this qadosh (holy, set-apart) character that we are pointing. We we speak of Elohim's (God's) Name we are not saying how to pronounce it. Your name, like His, is your character.
Forced to Live by Feelings, Thoughts and Desires
The Fall destroyed all of that. Man lost the closeness that all children were designed to have with their parents, no less their Heavenly Parents. When man ceases to live in a close relationship with Elohim (God) he is forced to live by his feelings, thoughts and desires instead. That is, after all, all that is left. The trouble is, man's feelings, thoughts and desires are not a reliable barometer of emet (truth). As Scripture testifies:
When Life Becomes Death
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Prov.16:25, NIV).
Notice the scripture does not mince words - it does not say that the way of man leads to 'error', though that, of course, it does, but to "death", the termination of chayim (life) itself - it leads to the very opposite of what a life in Elohim (God) gives. A man in charge of himself, steering his own course, making decisions in alignment with his own will, is his own 'god' - he's in charge, and deceives himself into believing that he is going 'pretty well'...unless he gets a taste of what it is like to live in the presence of Yahweh, and then - and only then - can he see and understand that his self-steered life was no life at all. It was, and is, death.
The Limits of Human Love
A man living for himself, apart from Elohim (God), cut off from His ahavah (love), becomes dependent on the all too imperfect, fallible love of human beings. He seeks in people what Elohim (God) alone can provide and not only ends up disappointed but may very well drive away the veryone he is seeking that divine ahavah (love) from. No other human being can provide that kind of ahavah (love). It is impossible. No man or woman can supply ahavah (love) as Elohim (God) does. Thus human beings become reduced to needing love and affirmation but never being able to find another person to give it, because the only ahavah (love) and affirmation that meets human need is divine. Human love cannot do it.
Stardust for Materialists
The pursuit of love and affirmation through other human beings is what drives this fallen world. You don't need me to tell you how 'successful' that has been. Man without Elohim (God) does not know who he is or what he really wants. He is groping in the dark, reaching out for something that once was, a distant memory from a time before time itself. He knows he is on this world for a purpose but doesn't know what exactly. The best that the world can offer him is make him believe that he was once a piece of 'star dust' and that he will return at death to becoming a piece of 'star dust' again.
More Than Ashes
I am holding here the urn that held the ashes of my late mother. Most of you assembled here remember her. One day I'll probably be in one of these...at least the remains of my outer shell will be. Now those of you who know Yahweh, have met Him, and commune with Him, know that my mother is still alive - and if you have lost parents or loved ones of your own, you'll know they're still alive too. But those who do not have or know Elohim (God) can only ever view a dead person as dust, in my mother's case, buried in a small plot in England. I was in America last year attending my brother-in-law's funeral. Those of us who attended saw his body looking much as it did when he was live, at least in outward form. But we knew he was not there. We also knew that he was alive elsewhere.
Subdue or Be Subdued
Death is one thing. It's an important subject and a reality we must all face. In the meantime there is a life to be lived between birth and death. The way you view that life - as being either the product of chance with no purpose or meaning, or the result of a divine plan - will shape both what you are now and how you live the rest of your life. If you choose the materialist, humanist, atheistic way, instead of producing Yahweh's ahavah (love) on earth, you will come to look nothing like your Heavenly Father, and instead of subduing the earth as Adam was commanded...and by subduing it I mean making the earth become what Yahweh's original intent meant it to be - it will end up subduing you. The spirit was always supposed to rule over the material, but if you deny the spiritual, all that's left to you to hope with is the material. Try moving a mountain to find out how successful you will be at that. Or even our telegraph poles. We can only subue the earth, and at the very least our little plot - and in particular our life - if we operate in the spiritual dimension, equipped with the resurrection power that Messiah gives those who trust and obey Him about which we'll be talking tomorrow at Yom haBikkurim (Day of Firstfruits).
Forced to Grow Up and Mature
In His great ahavah (love) for man, our Heavenly Father Yahweh sent His Son, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), to seek and save that which was lost. And that's everyone. No one starts life saved even if we start innocent as babes. We cannot remain as innocent babes, though. We were designed to grow up and mature. And as we do that, so we are forced to make adult-like choices choices. And though we started innocent, we nonetheless inherited the fallen Adamic nature, a piece of 'demonic turf' within the garden of our soul, if you like, which seeks - often successfully - to influence that decision-making process. Whatever image of Elohim (God) defines us when we are small and innocent, the flesh will continually seek to deface by persuading us to follow in the way of Cain.
All Need a Saviour
Nobody alive, save Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, has successfully resisted the flesh and the domain of Satan completely. No one but Him has lived a sinless life. Every one of us makes wrong choices, every one of us makes choices incompatible with the eternal torot or laws established by the Creator since the beginning. It follows, then, that nobody - not even the most 'saintly - can circumvent the need for a Saviour. The honest eventually recognise that it is so and the courageous then take the step needed to do something about their situation and need. And what is that step? To allow Yahweh to restore us to be and do what we were originally created to do - to have Yahweh's own likeness within us expressed through us once again. We surrender our will to His and accept who He says we are, not what the world or others say about us.
Your Value and Identity
Just as Yahweh originally created you in His image, He also made you for His image. He loves you and has never given up on you. He has always seen you in terms of who He created you to be - a son or daughter. That being true, in follows that you are worth the shed blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) to Yahweh our Heavenly Father. You have identity and value. Your identity is as His son and daughter and your value is in your being worth Yah'shua (Jesus) dying for you.
Created to Look Like Yahweh
You and I were born into a fallen, self-centred existence through our earthly fathers and their lineages going all the way back to Adam. The problem is, you were not created to live for yourself. Do you remember what we said yesterday? We were created so that Elohim (God) could live in us! Therefore we were created to look like our Heavenly Father!
How the Way Opens for a new Life
When you start understanding what you were really created for, when you begin to realise what Yah'shua (Jesus) did to make a way for you to be restored, an opportunity presents itself for you to change the way you think - that is to say, to make teshuvah (repent), to stop living just to please yourself and to start following Yah'shua (Jesus). The way opens for you to receive a brand new kind of chayim (life) from Elohim (God), to be re-fathered into a new life of knowing your heavenly Father, a life of intimate relationship with Him. That is what is meant by being "born again...[to] see (know, understand, live in) the Kingdom of Elohim (God)" (Jn.3:3, NIV).
The True Perspective of You
How Yahweh sees you, who you are to Him, your value to Him, what He has done for you and His purpose for you, is ultimately the emet (truth) about who you are and not what your parents, friends or peers may have told you who or what you are. How Elohim (God) sees you is the emet (truth) about you, not any human being - regardless of how you feel or think about yourself, regardless of how anyone else feels or thinks about you, regardless of what the circumstances of your life seem to say about your value, because His perspective is the perspective that is true. How could it be otherwise? Who else truly knows you like your Creator?
Realising Who He Is
When you come to realise the stunning emet (truth) of how Yahweh sees you, when you begin to trust how He sees you, over what you feel or think about yourself, when you seek Him in the secret place of your heart and begin to release that trust to Him, agreeing with Him in thank-filled prayer, then He makes Himself real to you in ways that you could not have imagined. And as He becomes more real to you, won't be able to help but deeply experience His ahavah (love) for you, because He is too wonderful, too amazing, too beautiful, too incredible for you not to experience it. Everything else, everything He wants to do in you, and through you, flows out of that intimacy, out of that growing relationship of ahavah (love).
Restored to His Image
What happens when this happens? You are restored back into His image. That's the Good News - that's the Besorah (Gospel) in a nutshell. It's something you absolutely can and do experience when you are thus restored. You are connected to Him, like an uprooted tree being replanted in the ground drawing nourishment from the soil again.
Spending Time With Him
With this intimate connection restored, your greatest privilege and simcha (joy) becomes spending time with Yahweh and getting to know Him. He has gone to extreme lengths to make a way for you to be with Him and He delights in your company. And in Him you will discover the love of your life.
Putting Off the Old and On the New
As you learn to yield yourself to Elohim (God), putting off by emunah (faith) the old self-centered ways and putting on by emunah (faith) the new ways you see in Messiah - His grace, His power working in you to do what you cannot do for yourself, so He molds and shapes you to be the person He created you to be - a son or daughter who is growing up to look like Him and most of to love like Him.
A Love Very Different Friom the World's
Elohim's (God's) ahavah (love) is not just for you to receive but for you to become so that as Yahweh has loved you, you might become that ahavah (love) to others. But you will come to realise that His ahavah (love) is very different from the so-called 'love' you have previously known. His ahavah (love) has no selfish ulterior motive. It is not merely need. It is never offended. It never fails.
So what, then, if our purpose on earth? It is not just to be blessed and go to heaven one day. We're here to look like our Father above and to be about our Father's business. We're here to fulfill our rôle in bringing to full expression His governance - His heart - His kingdom on the earth. We're here because Elohim (God) wants to show Himself to a broken world through us. He wants us to reproduce His likeness, His ahavah (love), in others and fill the earth with His glory. This is not because He is insecure or in need of attention but because it is to mankind's great advantage and benefit that everyone experience His kind of ahavah (love) and be overwhelmed by that ahavah (love).
An Enemy to Oppose
If only it were that simple. Unfortunaterly, you you might argue it is actually to our advantage in the long run, there is an enemy working to keep the kingdom of Elohim (God) from increasing on the earth. This enemy knows that He can’t defeat Yahweh but he believes that, by deception, trial and temptation, he can defeat those who carry the kingdom on the earth - the sons and daughters of the King. He strives to destroy their intimate relationship with Yahweh, because through that relationship they are transformed to look like their Heavenly Father, and it is through that relationship that they are empowered to be about their Father's business.
Through Deception, Trials and Temptations
This means there is warfare to be engaged in. But when you hold fast to emet (truth) in emunah (faith) in the face of the enemy's deception, trials and temptations, refusing to be pulled from your intimate ahavah (love) relationship with Elohim (God), you are truly free to live fully as a son or daughter.
Finally - and this to me is the most challenging to my own emunah (faith), revealing my undoubted defects, and that is we are told that healing follows. What do I mean by healing? What do the Scriptures mean? Healing is an expression in the physical body of all of what I have said so far - the Besorah (Gospel) of the Kingdom. What is the Kingdom? In its core, it is Yahweh's heart towards us and what is possible because of what He has already completed for us through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus).
I suppose, were I to summarise everything I have shared with you today, I would have to put it this way: Chag haMatzah isn't so much 'getting' individual sins out of our lives as it is first and foremost recovering our lost image of Messiah. The conquest or overcoming of sin and the sin-nature then follows. Then the 'getting' is not so much a self-effort thing (like 'getting' the sin of impatience out of our life by making a personal resolution and gritting one's teeth when impatience bubbles to the surface of our consciousness) as it is realising who you actually are in Messiah and 'getting' Him (and so acquiring His patience by virtue of His being in us through a right understanding of who we really are), namely, sons and daughters of Elohim (God), accepted on the basis of our emunah (faith, trusting) in Messiah alone and the restoring work that He did for us on the cross. Above all, accepting that we have worth, that we are loved and letting go of the false image that we are somehow under condemnation for failing, even as it is written:
There Is No Condemnation...
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), because through Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) the Torah (Law) of the Ruach Chayim (Spirit of Life) set me free from the torah (law) of sin and death" (Rom.8:1-2, NIV).
In the chapter before Paul explains why there is "therefore...now no condemnation". He explains:
The Big Mistake
"For in my inner being I delight in Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law); but I see another torah (law) at work in the members of my body, waging war against the torah (law) of my mind and making me a prisoner of the torah (law) of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to Elohim (God) - through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) our Master (Lord)! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law), but in the sinful nature a slave to the torah (law) of sin" (Rom.7:22-25, NIV).
What he means is this. When we understand who we are - what our true image is as sons and daughters of Elohim (God) - then we have our true identity and are able to delight in and live Yahweh's Torot (Laws), as Paul did. But when we forget who we really are in Messiah, and start believing we are somebody or something else, we are denying the work of Messiah and turning instead back to the fleshy nature and believing its lies. Then we become prisoners all over again and make ourselves "wretched". Then we become slaves to the law of sin and the leaven of sin once again starts to work in our minds and hearts transforming us back into the image of Satan! - broken, wretched, restless and wandering like Cain of old.
Realise Who You Are
To be free of sin means to first of all realise who you are in Yah'shua (Jesus) because you are trusting - exercising emunah (faith) in the work of the cross and what He has already done for you! So don't go back to that place of despair - you don't need to! You are what you are in Messiah - a cherished son or daughter. Believe that. Declare that and reject the devil's lie that you are just another pitiful Cain. Then you will be free, then sin will depart from your life and then you will be fulfilling the obligations of Chag haMatzah, a festival, incidentally, that has already been fulfilled! And this is how it has been fulfilled - your sin has been taken care of for you if only you will accept it as true and strop trying to deal with it by your own efforts. You are already free IN Messiah - just stop beliving the lie that you aren't.
Tomorrow is the second day of Chag haMatzah, Yom haBikkurim, the Day of Firstfruits, when we will examine HOW we are free on account of the resurrection! May Yahweh bless you as this emet (truth) sinks in and you stop listening to the lies of the flesh. Shalom!
Continued in Part 3